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Jesus said, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11.28-30).
Who has reached a point in their addiction that they are sick and tired of being sick and tired? Jesus says, “Come to Me.”
Who is burdened down with work and family responsibilities and bills and children? Jesus says, “Come to Me.”
Who is tired of the corona virus pandemic, of wearing masks, and social distancing? Jesus says, “Come to Me.”
Who is tired of the squabbling of Democrats and Republicans, who are acting like parents headed for a divorce but who seemingly care nothing for the welfare of their children? Jesus says, “Come to Me.”
Who is burdened by negative self-talk where you are your own worst enemy? Jesus says, “Come to Me.”
In every instance we can imagine, Jesus’ words to those who are tired and burdened by the issues of life is for us to come to him. What can we expect when we come to Jesus?
Help Carrying the Burden
When Jesus began his ministry, it was viewed as a fulfillment of the prophesy of Isaiah (see Matthew 4.14-16). Isaiah declared God’s good news,
“The people who walk in darkness
Will see a great light;
Those who live in a dark land,
The light will shine on them.
3 You shall multiply the nation,
You shall increase their gladness;
They will be glad in Your presence
As with the gladness of harvest,
As men rejoice when they divide the spoil.
For You shall break the yoke of their burden and the staff on their shoulders,
The rod of their oppressor, as at the battle of Midian” (Isaiah 9.2-4).
How does Jesus “break the yoke” of our burdens? He invites us to come under his yoke, so he can pull the load with us. Of all the burdens of life, Jesus is ready to help us through them with his grace, power and wisdom.
The only requirement to get Jesus’ help is to come to him and to follow his leadership. Thus, the first thing we need to do is to surrender to his leadership, knowing that he will give us the power we need in life.
Learn from Me.
The second thing we need to do is to learn from Jesus. The reason why we are studying Matthew is to learn from Jesus how to live a life like his. It is very difficult to learn from Jesus, if we never study how he lived and taught.
Another way to learn from Jesus is through experience. The men and women who walked with Jesus through Galilee sat in the classroom during the Sermon on the Mount. Later, they learned another truth about Jesus when he stilled the storm they were in on the Sea of Galilee. When they were sent out by Jesus with his power, they continued to learn from Jesus.
My wife, Toni, teaches the practical aspects of nursing. In actual hospital settings, the students are allowed to perform tasks that are basic to the nursing profession. Toni tells her students ever year that she has one criteria for evaluation. Would she like them to be her nurse if she were hospitalized?
I hope all of us are learning from Jesus, as we take this journey through Matthew’s Gospel. I also hope we are putting into practice the ministry that Jesus is directing us to do. Let’s apply Toni’s question to us. Would you like to have a minister like you, if you had some issue or need?
Jesus issued three commands to burdened people. They were to come to him, to surrender to his leadership (yoke), and to learn from him. He backed up his commands with two promises.
(1) The Promise of His Character – Authoritarian tyrants may rule the people through force and intimidation. People who question their authority are swiftly punished as an example to the people.
Jesus ruled with a “gentle and humble in heart” demeanor. That doesn’t mean that Jesus was soft. We have just studied Jesus denouncement of cities that failed to change their way of life after seeing Jesus’ deeds of power (Matthew 11.20-24).
I like to think about Jesus in the image of the best counselor a person could have. After all, he is called “Wonderful Counselor” (Isaiah 9.6).
As the best Counselor anyone could ever imagine, he will be perfectly accepting of my faults and character flaws. He knows how messed up I am and is compassionate. Thus, he deals with me in kindness, tenderness, and compassion.
However, as the best Counselor, he is committed to helping me achieve the best for my life. He is not willing to allow me to stay in the muck and mire of an undisciplined life. He tells me that I am responsible for my life and expects me to respond to his leadership.
Many people pay counselors good money and don’t follow their instructions. Let’s not do this to the best Counselor of all.
(2) The Promise of Rest – As we come to Jesus, learn from him, and follow his direction, he promises us rest in our inner self.
What is interesting is that in the next chapter we will discover more conflict for Jesus and his followers. It is obvious from church history that Jesus’ rest does not mean that his followers live on “easy street.”
Jesus’ rest may be similar to the principle of acceptance that is found in the literature of Alcoholics Anonymous. The only page in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous that I know is page 417. What it says is below:
“Acceptance is the answer to ALL of my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing or situation- some fact of my life unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing, or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment. Nothing, absolutely nothing, happens in God’s world by mistake. Until I could accept my alcoholism, I could not stay sober; unless I accept my life completely on life’s terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and in my attitudes.”
Many people I know have a good inside condition, because when troubled they surrender the situation to Jesus who promises to give them rest. They have memorized this portion of the Big Book and quote it when disturbed. I think they have a good practice that could be imitated by all of us.
Jesus concluded this amazing invitation and reaffirmed the truth of life with him. He said, “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (verse 30). Let’s choose today to accept his call to come to him, come under the yoke of his direction, and learn from him.
Dear Jesus, people have always been burdened by the pressures of life. We accept your invitation to come to you, to follow you, and to learn from you. Thank you for your promise to help us with our burdens and to give us rest. We trust you today.